Phosphorus is a mineral found in many foods. It is used by every cell in the body. Phosphorus plays important roles in many body functions, such as:

  • The storage and use of energy by the body.

  • The growth, maintenance, and repair of tissues and cells.

Phosphorus in Your Diet

Many conditions can cause low phosphorus levels.

  • Low vitamin D levels

  • Medicines which keep the body from absorbing phosphorus or cause the body to get rid of phosphorus

  • Water pills

  • Problems with parathyroid glands

  • Poor nutrition/malnutrition

  • Vomiting or diarrhea

  • Excessive alcohol intake or alcohol abuse

  • Kidney transplant patients often have levels of phosphorus which are too low

Some signs of low blood phosphorus levels:

  • Weakness

  • Difficulty breathing

  • Confusion

  • Irritability

How can I increase my phosphorus levels?

Phosphorus supplements can be ordered to help increase low blood levels of phosphorus. Eating foods that contain higher amounts of phosphorus can also help increase blood phosphorus levels.

Foods Higher in Phosphorus

Meats and Protein Foods

  • Beef

  • Pork

  • Fish (pollock, walleye, swordfish, cod, halibut, salmon, tuna)

  • Shrimp

  • Chicken or turkey

  • Tofu

Milk and Dairy Products

  • White and chocolate milk

  • Cheese

  • Yogurt

  • Ice cream

  • Custard

  • Pudding

  • Cream soup

  • Cheese and milk casseroles

  • Some brands of soy milk, and eggnog, ricotta or cottage cheese


  • Navy

  • Kidney

  • Pinto,

  • Lima beans

  • Soybeans

  • Lentils

  • Black-eyed peas

  • Hummus


  • Bran, bran products

  • Wheat germ

  • Oatmeal

  • Granola

Nuts and Seeds

  • Nuts (including soybean nuts)

  • Peanut butter, nut butters

  • Sunflower and pumpkin seeds


  • Chocolate

  • Caramel

  • Molasses

  • Hot cocoa

  • Baked potato with skin

  • Waffle or pancake

  • Biscuits

Who to Call

If you are a UW Health patient and have more questions, please contact UW Health at one of the phone numbers listed below. You can also visit our website at

Nutrition clinics for UW Hospital and Clinics (UWHC) and American Family Children’s Hospital (AFCH) can be reached at: (608) 890-5500.

Nutrition clinics for UW Medical Foundation (UWMF) can be reached at: (608) 287-2770.

If you are a patient receiving care at UnityPoint – Meriter, Swedish American or a health system outside of UW Health, please use the phone numbers provided in your discharge instructions for any questions or concerns.